The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 5-8

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The toughest part of marathoning a network series is that so much of it is just the appetizer course. How long must I wait until the delicious creamy desserts that are the reveals, twists, closures, and cliffhangers?! It's cool though, appetizers can be pretty delicious too. Some of our planet's more advanced cultures have even figured out how to eat appetizers for every course. (Sort of like me with Any'tizers.) Yes, Episodes 5–8 of Veronica Mars Season 2 were basically the boneless buffalo wings of a serialized drama: delicious if not necessarily satisfying. The best compliment I can pay to this stretch of episodes is just how much better integrated the cases of the week have been with the over-arching plots. Season 1 seemed to mash these elements together sometimes clumsily, but this season cases of the week have organically arisen from the main plot or were alluded to in previous episodes. For an episodic serial-procedural hybrid, there's much more flow now, which I really enjoy. Do I enjoy it as much as Any'tizers? Girl, quit it.

Okay, let's lift this school bus out of the ocean!



Season 2, Episode 5: "Blast From the Past"


Case of the week: Newly minted series lead Jackie continued making a bad impression on us when she approached Veronica for help finding out whether or not her best friend had stolen her credit card. After Veronica tirelessly looked at credit card statements and arranged outlet shopping plans with the suspect, her focus turned to a cable access psychic that Jackie occasionally consulted with. That's when Veronica was invited on-air and humiliated with personal information that Jackie had fed the psychic because, OH YEAH, it was all a practical joke intended to take Veronica down a peg. Ugh, Jackie is the worst.

The plot thickens: This episode focused way more on Wallace than usual, picking up where last episode left off with the reappearance of his supposed father. After an understandably fraught confrontation with his mother we learned that the man was indeed Wallace's biological father, but he'd gotten a bit too close to the junkie lifestyle while undercover so she'd left him and instead married the man that Wallace came to believe was his father. Wallace understood at first (Alicia still took a lot of grief about it from both him and Keith), but when he was again confronted by his father while working at his job turning product labels backwards...

... He discovered that his biological father had indeed attempted to contact him all that time and hadn't abandoned them like Alicia insisted he had. Between that and a few flare-ups with Veronica, Wallace ended the episode by leaving Neptune to go hang with his father in Chicago and not respond to any of Veronica's emails.

Meanwhile Keith's race against Sheriff Lamb heated up when, at a local debate, Sheriff Lamb revealed that Keith had failed to give the deceased bus driver a DUI back in the day, somehow making him culpable in the deaths of a dozen students. In retribution, Veronica literally bugged Sheriff Lamb's office and overheard him extorting baseball star Terrence Cook, but at the last minute she opted not to broadcast it at the homecoming dance as she'd originally intended. In more hopeful news, Veronica happened upon a voicemail left by one of the dead students AS they were crashing, and it suggested that there was a small explosion prior to the accident. Proving once again that they are indeed related by blood, Veronica's dad opted not to use this discovery against Sheriff Lamb and instead just turned the voicemail over to him to help the investigation.

Don't I know you from somewhere?

Christine Estabrook played the shady psychic. Most recognizable as Martha Huber from Desperate Housewives (as well as from a dozen other shows), I'll always remember her as Marcy, the melodramatic, racist realtor from American Horror Story.

Episode verdict: I've never been completely bowled over by the Wallace storylines, but I appreciated that this episode introduced some pretty heavy family drama for him to deal with. It definitely made Alicia more interesting and gave some added depth to Wallace's friendship with Veronica. Unfortunately, Jackie is not only an awful person but also an awful character, and it's frustrating to have to care about her relationship with Wallace. Does she get more interesting at some point? I hope so! Right now she seems like a waste of space in the opening credits. Overall this was a good, if slightly unsatisfying episode. I think that's mostly to do with the fact that we're still early in the season so it's all just a bunch of loose ends at this point (even the case of the week ended up having no closure). Still, Veronica Mars is a much more confident, layered show than before and it's still really fun to watch.



Season 2, Episode 6: "Rat Saw God"


Case of the week: What would've counted as larger mythology-related plotline last season was instead a case of the week this season: Failed scapegoat Abel Koontz returned to town to ask Veronica to track down his missing daughter Amelia before he died. Veronica eventually did; unfortunately she'd been murdered! With the help of (notably not-in-prison) Kane Software head of security Clarence Wiedman, Veronica traced the crime to Amelia's Argentinian lover and Clarence vowed to basically go murder him. Because that's his main hobby I guess? Meanwhile Veronica lied to Abel Koontz on his deathbed, claiming that Amelia was trying to return from a super fun vacation but she'd be there soon.

The plot thickens: First off, Keith lost the Sheriff election by a super slim margin. Meanwhile a new witness showed up to offer new information about Logan's supposed stabbing of Felix. Then, in possibly related events, somebody burned down Logan's house and he had to move in with Duncan. But one of the bigger moments of the episode was the return of Aaron Echolls, who was transferred to the Neptune County Jail in order to, I guess, talk some sense into Logan? The surprising part was that he denied murdering Lilly Kane. While he admitted he had tried to murder Veronica and Keith (in the season finale) he maintained that Duncan was the one who'd been in an epileptic rage around the time of Lilly's murder.

Finally, Keith actually boarded the crashed school bus (which a slightly more helpful Sheriff Lamb had exhumed from its water grave) and discovered evidence of an explosion. So, just in case that wasn't clear enough already, a murderer was on the loose!

Don't I know you from somewhere?

Noted Veronica Mars superfan and general geek boss Joss Whedon played the manager of a car rental company that Amelia DeLongpre had used.

Playing his underling was then-America's Next Top Model contestant Kim Stolz! I remember I rooted for her during that season. And she wasn't terrible here! It still seems weird that UPN was shoehorning Top Model contestants into its critically acclaimed serialized drama, but for the most part they haven't stood out more than normal day-players. So far, at least.

Episode verdict: This episode was great, if way more grim than usual. Between Abel's offscreen cancer death to Amelia's icy resting place (that motel manager was NOT doing a very good job of maintaining that ice machine), there was a real whiff of death in this episode. But it also had its moments, like this part where Veronica staged an art gallery in her motel room just to prove to Keith that she wasn't up to anything:

Cool art gallery!

I'm super intrigued about the Aaron Echolls thing, if also slightly disturbed that the plotlines of Season 1 weren't as wrapped up as I'd hoped. It's weird having closure yanked out from under you, you know?



Season 2, Episode 7: "Nobody Puts Baby in a Corner"


Case of the week: After Duncan decided to go through comatose Meg's computer and find out exactly what Meg's sister didn't want their parents to find, he discovered that she'd been attempting to contact Child Protective Services to save an unnamed child she'd been babysitting. It wasn't long before Veronica was offering to babysit for half the town and she discovered a sick fact about Neptune: ALL PARENTS were abusing their children basically.

A particularly chilling scenario happened when Veronica went to the world's weirdest poolside sleepover at Gia Goodman's house and witnessed Woody Goodman and his wife behaving super strangely toward their younger son. But this was a red herring, as later Veronica and a turtleneck-clad Duncan infiltrated Meg's bedroom to discover that Meg had actually been referring to her own little sister and they went on to discover not only hundreds of journals with punishment-induced scribblings in them, but also a SECRET room behind the closet in which the girl was being kept!

After Veronica and Duncan were discovered, Meg's father had them arrested and in an absolutely chilling scene, Sheriff Lamb realized they were telling the truth, set them free, and took it upon himself to make sure the abuse would stop, thus continuing the subtle redemption of the world's worst sheriff.

The plot thickens: Logan also enlisted Veronica to help debunk the new "witness" in Felix's murder case. She discovered he was a pretty stand-up guy (a plastic surgeon who insisted that Veronica didn't need any work done). Meanwhile the Casablancas' lawyer informed Dick and Beaver that they'd get access to their trust funds at 21 but Kendall wouldn't be getting a dime; within hours she was attempting to gold-dig Logan, and then even Duncan. Also Keith learned from Woody Goodman that the "mayor" of Neptune was hoping to spin the '09er zip code off into its own township and make Keith the sheriff. And in one more nugget of intrigue, Duncan discovered a letter in Meg's room that he pocketed when Veronica wasn't looking.

Don't I know you from somewhere?

I'd neglected to point him out when he first appeared, but Meg's dad was played by the very recognizable character actor Geoff Pierson who also plays the Captain on Dexter, had a stint as the President on 24, and was also the poor man's Al Bundy on Unhappily Ever After. Congratulations on playing a jerk on EVERY show, Mr. Pierson!

Episode verdict: Another great episode, with its perfect blend of teenage awfulness (the slumber party), Neptune's seedy underbelly, and even a scene in which Veronica lip-synced dialogue to The Big Lebowski:

I mean, what's not to like? But really, the closing sequence in which Lamb arrested and then set free Veronica and Duncan was incredible. One of the more subtle and powerful moments I've seen on any TV show in a while. I like how this season has shaded in some of its broadly drawn characters, and in particular the flashes of goodness in Sheriff Lamb have been great. The child abuse angle was downright disturbing, but still felt accurate to this particular affluent beachside hellscape.



Season 2, Episode 8: "Ahoy, Mateys!"


Case of the week: In a case tangentially related to the ongoing bus crash plot, parents of one of the victims found themselves the victims of "pranks" involving the memory of their dead son. Bus trinkets left around the house, audio loops of his voice played through their car stereo. You know, typical pranks. Veronica looked into it only to discover that the kid had been apart of a secret Howard Stern-like pirate radio station and was possibly gay. Eventually she discovered that the kid's boyfriend (?) had been harassing the parents in retribution for their having sent their son to an anti-gay brainwashing camp, but then the parents had continued staging the harassment in order to win a lawsuit against the school district.

The plot thickens: Much of this week's plotine involved Logan's stabbing case, and how exactly the PCH gang was involved. First Veronica went to check up on the shady dealings of the plastic surgeon witness, which led to a frightening confrontation with a local family of Irish thugs who were clearly trying to frame Logan for some reason. Meanwhile the PCH gang kidnapped Logan at gunpoint and mentally tortured him to get him to 'fess up to Felix's murder. He didn't, of course, and ended the episode vowing revenge on Weevil and his posse. Meanwhile Duncan began having dreams that made clear he was possibly still in love with Meg and that Veronica was some kind of villain in his life. Uh-oh. The final shot had Duncan finally opening that letter he'd found in Meg's room only to gasp in disbelief. Cliffhanger!

Don't I know you from somewhere?

High School Musical's Lucas Grabeel played this '09er who was VERY mad at Weevil about not getting his cocaine.

Sons of Anarchy fans might recognize Taylor Sheridan here as Danny Boyd, friend of the Fighting Fitzpatricks and lucky beneficiary of some impromptu pool table plastic surgery.

Episode verdict: Well, obviously I'm going to comment on the gay twist. Better, Veronica Mars. Not exactly heartwarming that a gay person would feel righteous enough to emotionally torture grieving parents, but that kind of behavior is no more monstrous than typical straight characters' actions on this show. So, um, cool equality? But I really enjoyed the pool hall scene where Veronica almost got a new face tattoo. Once again Logan swooped in and saved her, continuing this season's mirroring of Logan's arc in Season 1 (awful to heroic). Yeah, this was a solid episode. Not exactly fun per se, but thrilling and kinda scuzzy. And what did that letter sayyyyy?? Okay I will keep watching.


QUESTIONS:

... Did you guys miss Wallace AT ALL when he was gone?

... Would you rather be locked in a closet metaphorically or literally?

... Did it bug you whenever Top Model contestants would show up?

... Am I crazy or is Sheriff Lamb becoming likeable?


Previously...
The Veronica Mars Season 1 Dossier: Episodes 1-8
The Veronica Mars Season 1 Dossier: Episodes 9-16
The Veronica Mars Season 1 Dossier: Episodes 17-22
The Veronica Mars Season 2 Dossier: Episodes 1-4

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